Smart Health

The Connection Between Sleep and Health

sleepWe’re taking a break from the nutrition-related posts today to talk about an element of health and wellness that is often overlooked or just plain ignored: sleep!

Although we’ve all heard of “8” being the magic sleep number, your ideal sleep time may fall anywhere between 7 to 9 hours. Unfortunately as we all know too well, there are many life distractions that make it less likely for us to meet our sleep needs: work, family life, household chores, and other priorities (ahem, like your next Netflix binge). To top it all off, even when we do make it to bed at a decent time, some of us may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep due to stress or sleep disorders. According the National Sleep Foundation, 67 percent of Americans are sleep-deprived or have sleep disorders. That means that 2/3 of the people in your office right now are wishing for more sleep (maybe even you?)

So what’s the big deal with sleep anyway? With a little coffee, most people get by just fine, right? Not exactly… especially not in the long term. Among the many conditions that inadequate sleep time and quality has been linked to are weight gain, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. How? Lack of sleep can increase ghrelin levels, which are the hormones that stimulate appetite. Research is also being done on how sleep deprivation can increase our intake of unhealthy foods by changing our brain activity. And, too little sleep disrupts circadian rhythms which may increase the risk of insulin resistance (in turn increasing the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes).

The moral of this story is that sleep is important to our health. The risks mentioned above are serious, but even in the short term, many of us have noticed how lack of sleep affects us: less focus, moodiness, memory issues, the list goes on. And you may already know this! Most of us do, and we are really trying to get more sleep. But life gets in the way, and we understand that too. Here are some steps you can take to improve your sleep:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon. It can linger in the body for hours, preventing sleep. If you need an afternoon pick me up, take a quick 10-minute walk, have a balanced snack, or drink a glass of cold water (with citrus and/or mint for an extra boost).
  • Limit alcohol and large meals, especially late in the evenings, since they can cause you to wake in the middle of the night.
  • Exercise daily. Studies show that regular exercisers report getting better sleep.
  • Make your bedroom a tech-free zone. Keep phones, tablets, and all other gadgets in another room. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, get an alarm clock instead!
  • Wind down before bed. Spend the hour before going to bed doing a calming activity, like reading, journaling, taking a bath, or listening to quiet music. If you find that watchingTV or being on your phone keeps you awake, avoid these activities right before bed.
  • If you can’t sleep, get up and do a quiet activity in another room for 20-30 minutes.

If you are constantly struggling with sleepless nights, it would be best to speak to your physician and/or a sleep professional to help you find the underlying source.


References:
National Sleep Foundation, How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? and Annual Sleep in America Poll
GALLUP Dec.5-8, 2013
Patel SR. Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Nov 15;164(10):947-54
Taheri S. PLoS Med. 2004 Dec;1(3):e62 St-Onge MP. Am J ClinNutr. 2011 Aug;94(2):410-6 St-Onge MP. Int J Obes (Lond). 2014 Mar; 38(3): 411–416
GreerSM..Nat Commun. 2013 Aug 6; 4: 2259 Schmid SM.Am J ClinNutr. 2009 Dec;90(6):1476-82 Bromley LE.Sleep. 2012 Jul 1;35(7):977-84 Shi SQ. Curr Biol. 2013 Mar 4;23(5):372-81 Kristen L. KnutsonA. N Y Acad Sci. 2008; 1129: 287–304 Kristen L. Knutson A. Sleep Med Rev. 2007 Jun; 11(3): 163–178.

Our Favorite Dairy Free Products

What are your favorite dairy free products?  We get this question a lot.  We are an office full of mostly dairy free people, so we know quite a bit about dairy free products. Even if we haven’t tried it, our patients probably have.  We decided it’s time to put together a list of our tried-and-true favorite dairy free products in hopes it will help our friends out there like you!

Dairy Free Milk Canva


Milk

New Barn Almond Milk

This milk is a favorite because it has very few added ingredients, and instead of being sweetened with cane sugar, they use maple syrup.  If you opt for the unsweetened version, the only three ingredients are almonds, water, and acacia gum which helps to stabilize and thicken the milk.

Find it here.

Elmhurst

Elmhurst makes a collection of rich and creamy milks that are all delicious with minimal ingredients.  We like that they use a cold brewing process that retains the nutrition of the nuts and eliminates the need for thickeners and stabilizers.  The only downside is they do not currently make unsweetened milk, but maybe they will in the future.

Find it here.

SILK Cashew Milk

SILK contains more ingredients than the two listed above, but SILK products are much easier to find, which may be a plus depending on where you live. Their cashew milk is a creamy blend of cashews and almonds.  It comes in a variety of sweetened and unsweetened flavors making it accessible for anyone.

Find it here.


 

Yogurt

Kite Hill Almond Yogurt (Regular and Greek)

Kite Hill yogurts are creamy and delicious.  They do have a mild almond flavor which isn’t noticeable with the flavored varieties- like blueberry, strawberry, etc.- but we enjoy the plain unsweetened variety and flavor it ourselves.  The Greek version is creamier than the original.

Find it here.

So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt

We like So Delicious because it comes in a variety of flavors and is easy to find.  The yogurt itself is not as thick as regular yogurt and slightly more sweet from the coconut milk.

Find it here.

Amande Almond Yogurt

This yogurt is a good option for those who are avoiding sugar but still enjoy sweet flavors, as it is sweetened only with fruit juice.  They offer many different flavors, including plain, and the yogurt is a rich and creamy consistency.

Find it here.


 

Cheese

Note: Unfortunately, there are not many dairy free cheeses available that are similar to the flavor of real cheese.  Because of this, most are disappointed when they try them. That said, with an open mind, these cheese alternatives can be quite enjoyable. We like to take it in a new direction with something unexpected, such as a nut cheese.

Kite Hill Almond Cheese

Kite Hill has it cheese down to a science.  While they are not the traditional shredded or block cheese, they are delicious and enjoyed spread over gluten free crackers, breads, or fruit.

Find it here.

Dr. Cow Cashew or Macadamia Nut Cheese

Dr. Cow, like Kite Hill, makes nut cheeses which are more of a spreadable type cheese.  Their inventory consists of cashew and macadamia nut cheese.  They also have different infused flavors which are great.

Find it here.


 

Ice Cream

So Delicious Coconut, Almond, and Cashew Milk Ice Creams

So Delicious is easy to find and we like that they make a coconut milk ice cream that doesn’t contain any sugar – only erythritol and monk fruit (lo han guo).  The cashew variety is especially creamy and melts like real ice cream.

Find it here.

Wink Sugar Free Dairy Free Desserts

This frozen dessert does not contain sugar and has recognizable ingredients. A great option if you are dealing with food sensitivities.

Find it here.


*As always, when purchasing commercially packaged foods, always read the ingredient labels to be sure it is free of any allergens or ingredients you are sensitive to.


 

Stefanie Gates, chef, is a regular contributor to our blog and culinary advisor for PreviMedica. She enjoys developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. Her main recipe tester is her 22 month old son.  You can learn more about her here.

 

Living With Food Sensitivities: Gluten

So you reacted to gluten on your food sensitivity test, now what?

At the end of the day, you probably just want to know- what do I eat? Which, I promise we will get to. But first, it is important to understand what your culprit is so you at least have a general idea of where it’s found to better avoid it.

Wheat-8

Gluten is a protein found in the following grains: wheat, spelt, malt, barley, and rye. While you may not necessarily be eating these grains whole, like pearled barley with your steak, a sandwich on rye bread, or cream of wheat for breakfast- these are all very common ingredients in a lot of processed and packaged foods. So if you want to see the best possible results with your food sensitivity testing and are currently eat packaged foods, you are likely going to be replacing a lot of these with alternative products.

The “obvious” foods that will contain gluten are baked goods and anything made with flour. This includes: bread, pasta, pizza, muffins, tortillas, cookies, pastries, cakes, etc. The not so obvious ones will be products like: flavored snacks, spices, sauces (soy, Marinara, Worcestershire), dressings, processed meats, gravies, beer, candy, seitan, panko, orzo, udon, couscous and grains that are derivatives of wheat like semolina, faro, durum, and bulgur.

Brunch (11 of 19)

By now, I’m sure you’re thinking “is there anything left for me to eat?!”

The good news is- YES! Yes, there is. For every food that contains gluten there is likely a gluten free alternative. To ensure complete avoidance, taking on the habit of reading ingredient labels is key. You’re not likely to find the word “gluten” listed. Instead, you want to make sure the aforementioned grains (or derivatives) are not listed anywhere on the ingredient list. The easiest way to seek these for these alternative foods is by looking for a “GF” or “gluten free” or “certified gluten free” label on the product. If a product is labeled only as “wheat free”, this does not necessarily mean that that it will be gluten free.

labelreading (1 of 1)

To add to the good news, you don’t have to go to a “special store” to find gluten free options. Many grocery stores carry a variety of gluten free products. Depending on the set-up, some may have it in the same aisle as the gluten contain food you may be looking for, or they may be in its own special section. If you are not sure, just ask an employee. One example, gluten free breads almost always come frozen; so be sure to check out the bread section in the freezer aisle for your gluten free options. If options are limited at your regular grocery store, then you may want to consider your local health food store, as they may carry a wider variety of gluten free products.

With the good news also comes the not-so-good news. Gluten free products will perhaps not taste like their gluten-containing counterparts and will likely be more expensive. Keep an open mind when it comes to these alternative options; if you didn’t like the gluten free bread or gluten free cracker you picked up, try a different brand next time you are at the grocery store. To try and keep your grocery bill from skyrocketing with this new eating pattern, consider naturally gluten free foods such as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and the following whole grains: amaranth, buckwheat, corn (organic, non GMO), millet, oats (gluten free), quinoa, rice, sorghum, tapioca, teff, wild rice.

fishcurry2

Lastly, a common misconception of gluten free products is that they are healthier. The truth is, a cookie is a cookie- gluten free or not. In fact, the gluten free alternative may have more sugar and processed fats compared to the gluten containing one. It is important to not lose sight of promoting positive eating to reach your wellness goals. Choose naturally gluten free whole foods first and implement your processed gluten free products as needed.

Changing eating habits is a difficult, sometimes intimidating, task to take on and may not necessarily be achieved overnight. However, with guidance, planning, and an open mind, living a gluten free life can be enjoyable and fulfilling!

If you’re looking for gluten free recipes, you’ve come to the right place! The majority of the recipes on this website are gluten free.. Here are some of our favorite alternatives to traditionally gluten-containing dishes:

Gluten Free Chicken and Dumplings

Gluten Free Mac N’ Cheese

Easy Gluten Free Almond Bread

Easy Two-Ingredient Pancakes

Gluten Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Apple Carrot Muffins

Living Gluten Free

References:

Ashat, Munish.  Kochhar, Rakesh. (2014). Non-celiac gluten hypersensitivity, Tropical Gastroenterology, 35 (2): 71-78.

“The Gluten-Free Diet.” Beyond Celiac, www.beyondceliac.org/gluten-free-diet/overview/.


Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

Our Favorite Halloween-Themed Treats

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids and adults alike.  The excitement of costumes, parties, and the cooler air makes it easy to get everyone in the family involved for a fun Halloween party.  Whether it’s a pumpkin carving party or a huge Halloween bash, these ideas are sure to inspire you.  Who needs candy when you can make these fun AND healthy treats?

Snack O' Lantern Fruit Cups

(Photo courtesy of www.seededatthetable.com) 

1. In addition to carving pumpkins, why not carve oranges? 

https://www.seededatthetable.com/2009/10/14/snack-o-lantern-fruit-cups/

 

Colby Jack O' Lanterns

(Photo courtesy of www.everydayhealth.com)

2. You don’t even need cookie cutters to make these fun Halloween sandwiches!

https://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-halloween-treats-for-kids.aspx#02

 

Halloween Treat: Cheese and Pretzel Broomsticks

(Photo courtesy of www.onelittleproject.com)

3. We made these fun broomsticks last year out of pretzel sticks and string cheese!  Catch the video of making them in next week’s post.

http://onelittleproject.com/halloween-treat-cheese-pretzel-broomsticks/

 

Make snacking fun by turning regular apples into silly apple bites. Food with an attitude!Your kids will be begging for seconds.

(Photo courtesy of www.forkandbeans.com)

4. Sliced apples, strawberries and sunflower seeds are hysterically funny Halloween bites.

http://www.forkandbeans.com/2015/08/06/silly-apple-bites/

 

Healthy Halloween Spooky Spider Deviled Eggs

(Photo courtesy of www.gritsandpinecones.com)

5. These hardboiled eggs turn into the perfect nest for some scary spiders.

https://www.gritsandpinecones.com/halloween-spooky-spider-deviled-eggs/

 

Fruit_JackoLanterns_012

(Photo courtesy of www.brit.co)

6. Get the kids involved in carving scary Halloween melons to make a cute fruit platter display or candle display!

https://www.brit.co/halloween-fruit-carving/


 

Stefanie Gates, chef, is a regular contributor to our blog and culinary advisor for PreviMedica. She enjoys developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. Her main recipe tester is her 20 month old son.  You can learn more about her here.

Made Over Meals – Simple Changes to Make for Your Health

Making simple changes to your favorite dishes can go a long way when it comes to your health. We have compiled a list of our staff’s favorite meals and proposed some simple changes to a few key ingredients to make them over into something a tad healthier.  No matter what your journey is – eating healthy, losing weight, or avoiding food sensitivities, we all can benefit from making healthy changes to how we live!

Healthy Changes Collage

Lasagna

Healthy Swap: Switch out the pasta for thinly sliced vegetables such as zucchini, yellow squash, or ribbons of carrots.  Layer the vegetables with cheese and sauce.  By replacing the pasta with vegetables you are drastically cutting down on carbohydrates and increasing your vegetable intake – a bonus!

Corned Beef Reuben with Swiss, Sauerkraut, and Thousand Island Dressing

Healthy Swap: Instead of corned beef, think about using nitrate free turkey.  Make your own thousand island dressing (we really like this recipe), and choose a gluten free rye-style bread.

Chicken and Dumplings

Healthy Swap: This thick and creamy comfort food is easily made with gluten free flour, non-dairy butter type spread, and white meat chicken.  Instead of using heavy cream, use a non-dairy milk such as almond or organic soy milk.  Season generously and stir in lots of chopped veggies.

Mac-N-Cheese

Healthy Swap: We won’t beat around the bush with this one. This recipe is made with cashews! You won’t even know the difference – it is a well-loved dish in our office.

Meatloaf

Healthy Swap: There are so many ways to make meatloaf a little bit healthier.  Replace regular bread crumbs with ground oats (gluten free if needed), use ground turkey or chicken in the place of beef, and add in chopped vegetables such as carrots, onion, celery, spinach, kale, peppers, etc. You will have a veggie-packed meatloaf in no time!

Mashed Potatoes

Healthy Swap: Instead of the creamy butter and milk filled potatoes, change your line of thinking to a smashed potato.  Boil your potatoes as usual, smash the potatoes with a masher, and stir in good tasting olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs.

Chicken Tenders

Healthy Swap: Bread your chicken with gluten free bread crumbs, almond flour, or even chia seeds! The options are endless.  Season your breading with whatever your favorite spices are and bake in the oven or sauté on the stove top.  No batter or deep frying found here!

French Fries

Healthy Swap: Using a mandolin, cut the potatoes to the desired thickness.  If you don’t have one, cut the potato into wedges with a knife.  Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you desire.  Bake in a 400°F oven until they are brown and crisp.

Baked Ziti

Healthy Swap: Substitute regular pasta for whole grain or gluten free pasta, make your own marinara, and use grated vegetables mixed throughout along with half the cheese and more Parmesan than mozzarella.

Chicken Parmesan

Healthy Swap: Instead of breading and frying your chicken cutlet, simply toss the chicken in seasoned almond flour and pan fry until cooked through.  Serve on a bed of whole grain or gluten free spaghetti and cover with homemade marinara and a topping of Parmesan cheese.  Bake to melt the cheese.

Shephard’s Pie

Healthy Swap: While lamb is delicious, it is very fatty! Try a blend of lamb and lean beef, or forego the lamb altogether and use ground chicken or turkey.  Mix in all of your favorite vegetables (peas, carrots, celery, green beans, spinach, etc.) and top with a layer of mashed cauliflower.  Bake until heated through and bubbly!

Ice Cream

Healthy Swap: Oh delicious ice cream.  Instead of opting for the dairy filled version, make your own with coconut milk!  Be sure to use the full fat version for the best results.  Instead of using a ton of added sugar, skip it all together and use spices and extracts that give the impression of sweetness such as vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, or almond extract.  You don’t even need an ice cream maker!


Stefanie Gates, chef, is a regular contributor to our blog and culinary advisor for PreviMedica. She enjoys developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. Her main recipe tester is her 20 month old son.  You can learn more about her here.

Arsenic in Rice: What You Should Know

Heavy metals and food should not be in the same sentence. However, it is the reality that we as consumers are facing today. In recent news, arsenic has been getting much attention due to its presence in rice. Here’s what you need to know.

Rice-7

What is arsenic?

Arsenic is a natural occurring heavy metal (mineral, actually) that at high levels of exposure can be toxic and lethal. Due to contamination from industrial pollutants, mining, coal burning, agricultural chemicals, arsenic-based pesticides, animal drugs, and arsenic-laden manure, levels of arsenic in our environment, food, and water have increased significantly over the years. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) have set limits of arsenic in our drinking water at 10 parts per billion (which can easily be reached with rice intake as well). Health concerns such as cancers, reproductive and developmental problems, endocrine, respiratory, immunological, neurological conditions, and infections both acute and chronic have all be associated with extreme elevated levels of arsenic.

Arsenic in Rice

This is a big concern because rice and rice-based products are a major food staple worldwide and the rice plant naturally takes up and stores arsenic to a great extent. Overall, arsenic content will vary depending on contamination levels of soil and irrigation water, region where it’s grown, method of cultivation, and the rice variety. Arsenic tends to be highest in brown whole grain rice, because it concentrates in the bran. Thus polished white rice (i.e. basmati, jasmine) and pre-cooked instant white rice will contain the least amount of arsenic. Because there is little control of where our store-bought rice is coming from or how its cultivated, it has been recommended to rinse the rice initially, soaking, and cooking in a large amount of water (6-12 times more water than rice), and then discarding the water. While vitamins and minerals may be lowered with this process, it may lower arsenic content as well.

Bottom Line

There are many questions that still remain unanswered regarding arsenic in our food. It is best to continue monitoring legislative efforts to reduce or eliminate arsenic in our food and water supply. Even so, it is always important to understand a potential health risk factor and be aware of what can be done to minimize exposure. The following recommendations have been set in place:

  • Choose white rice more often than brown rice
    • Alternative whole grains to consider include: sprouted whole wheat and barley. If gluten free, organic potatoes, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, oats, and non-GMO corn are options to consider.
  • Rinse, soak, and cook rice in 6-12 times more water than rice and discard excess water.
  • Limit total intake of rice (reduce if other rice-based products are consumed)
    • Adults should limit to 1 ½ cups cooked rice per week
    • Children should limit just under 1 cup per week
  • Minimize or eliminate brown rice, brown syrup, rice bran soluble, and rice milk, especially for pregnant women, infants, and children.
  • Gluten free individuals should be cautious about over consuming rice-based products. Choosing other whole grain gluten free alternatives would be best.
  • Test your water.
  • Testing body levels of arsenic may be done through urine testing with a practitioner.

Here at PreviMedica we highly encourage taking steps to minimize exposure to arsenic. While changes may not happen overnight the aforementioned list prioritizes those changes that can be made one step at a time.

 


Resources:

  1. “WHO media centre.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, who.int/mediacentre/en/. Accessed 29 Aug. 2017.
  2. “Documents for SBAR Panel: National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Arsenic and Clarifications to Compliance and New Source Contaminant Monitoring.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 8 Sept. 2016, epa.gov/reg-flex/documents-sbar-panel-national-primary-drinking-water-regulations-arsenic-and-clarifications . Accessed 29 Aug. 2017.
  3. Stanton, Bruce A., et al. “MDI Biological Laboratory Arsenic Summit: Approaches to Limiting Human Exposure to Arsenic.” SpringerLink, Springer International Publishing, 26 June 2015, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40572-015-0057-9. Accessed 29 Aug. 2017.
  4. Group, EWG – Environmental Working. “EWG’s Food Scores just took the work out of grocery shopping for me!” EWG, ewg.org/foodscores/content/arsenic-contamination-in-rice#.Wa7q0bKGOUk . Accessed 29 Aug. 2017.

Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

FAILSAFE 101

Today we’re discussing a trial eating plan that was originally designed to treat children with ADHD, but over recent years it has proven useful for a wide range of conditions, such as eczema, asthma, allergy-type symptoms, and severe food allergies. FAILSAFE stands for Free of Additives, Low in Salicylates, Amines, and Flavor Enhancers (glutamates).

Failsafe

This elimination plan originated by immunologists at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in the late 70’s after curiosity sparked with the contributing role of dietary substances in the cause or worsening of skin irritations and allergies. Clinical trials were done and improvements were seen in those patients with skin conditions after removing certain chemicals from their eating patterns. Further clinical observation made it evident that certain food additives and naturally occurring compounds could aggravate other symptoms besides skin issues such as migraine, irritable bowel and neuropsychiatric symptoms.

FAILSAFE is likely one the most restrictive eating plans known, so before getting rid of everything in your kitchen (literally!), it is important to keep a few things in mind. While eliminating anything processed with artificial colors, flavors, additives, and preservatives is ideal to promote optimal well-being, the other suggested exclusions are a little more challenging to live with, especially long term. Substances like salicylates, glutamates, and amines are natural components also found in wholesome foods like apples, broccoli, whole grains, and meats. A full list of foods that are included on a FAILSAFE plan can be found here.

The FAILSAFE plan suggests beginning with an elimination (that lasts from 4-12 weeks) and then adding foods back in gradually to “rechallenge” them. This is so individuals can determine which chemicals in particular may be causing symptoms and what quantity of chemicals can be managed without experiencing these symptoms.

The process of determining what makes one feel unwell is often a demanding and drawn out journey; and although eliminating certain foods from your eating pattern can definitely help, strict food elimination plans, like FAILSAFE, are only meant to be a short-term trial for diagnosing the issue.

If you feel you may benefit from the FAILSAFE plan it is always best to consult with a nutrition professional, like our experts at PreviMedica, to ensure nutrient intake is adequate. If you’d like to set up an appointment with one of our PreviMedica nutrition experts, contact us at hello@previmedica.com or by calling 855-773-8463.


Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

Resources:
Watkins, Tim. “History of our elimination diet – Allergy Unit – Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.” History of our elimination diet – Allergy Unit – Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. N.p., Web. 11 Apr. 2017. http://www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/rpa/allergy/resources/foodintol/development.html
Swain, Ann R. THE ROLE OF NATURAL SALICYLATES IN FOOD INTOLERANCE . Thesis. University of Sydney, 1988. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print. http://www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/rpa/allergy/research/students/1988/AnneSwainPhDThesis.pdf
Clarke, Lesley, Jenny McQueen, Ann Samild, and Ann Swain. “The dietary management of food allergy and food intolerance in children and adults.” Australian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics 53.3 (1996): 1-10. Web. 2 Mar. 2017. http://www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/rpa/allergy/research/daareview.pdf.

 

Candida 101

By now I’m sure you’ve heard something about candida. Whether it is for health reasons or because it’s the trending new “cleanse”, more and more people are looking into candida and an anti-candida eating pattern. So let’s explore the facts a little further…CAndidaWhat is candida anyway? Candida albicans is a yeast that normally inhabits the gut in small amounts. It also inhabits other mucous membranes in the body such as the skin and mouth. Levels of Candida, as well as other resident fungi, are kept in check by the “good” or friendly bacteria in the gut, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. However, if the growth of Candida is not kept under control it can lead to an overgrowth known as candidiasis or Candida Related Complex. Candida most commonly presents itself as a vaginal infection, oral thrush, or diaper rash, but it may still exist without presenting itself in this way. If the immune system is compromised, the yeast proliferates and transforms into a harmful infection capable of causing disease that can severely compromise the immune system even further. The by-products released by Candida are then absorbed into the bloodstream and may travel to many areas of the body. As the immune system attempts to deal with these foreign molecules, it can lead to a variety of different symptoms and can be the underlying cause of many chronic and difficult to diagnose health problems.

While scientific evidence on candidiasis and its effects are quite prominent, the science is limited when it comes to determining what the best anti-Candida nutrition therapy is. Most successful eating plans have been based on clinical and anecdotal experience. Experts suggest that the goal of an anti-Candida plan is to starve the yeast by eliminating its main source of fuel – sugar. If you are already avoiding obvious sugar like soda, cupcakes, and cookies, this might sound quite simple right off the bat. However it is suggested that sugar in all forms be avoided, including naturally found sugars such as those in fruits and grains. Moreover, there are other suggested dietary approaches to prevent the proliferation of the yeast including the avoidance of individual food sensitivities, dairy, mushrooms, yeasts, and moldy foods such as peanuts, cashews, and pistachios.

A number of common symptoms such as unexplained fatigue, anxiety, joint pain, headaches, or brain fog can be associated with Candida overgrowth and likely to be alleviated after implementing a Candida-friendly eating pattern; although this is easier said than done! While cutting out obvious sugars from your eating pattern may be something you should probably be doing anyway to promote positive eating, further dietary restrictions to stay Candida-friendly are best done with the help of a nutrition expert. If you are dealing with candidiasis and would like to learn more, we encourage you to work with our nutrition and culinary experts to design a plan that is right for you!

Looking for a Candida-friendly dinner? Our Coconut Seafood Curry recipe contains coconut and garlic, both of which are powerful anti-fungal ingredients that can assist in eliminating Candida overgrowth. Check out the video below and the full recipe here.


Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.
Resources:
Kim, Joon, and Peter Sudbery. “Candida Albicans, a Major Human Fungal Pathogen.” The Journal of Microbiology J Microbiol. 49.2 (2011): 171-77. Web. 21 Sept. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21538235
Kumamoto CA. Inflammation and gastrointestinal Candida colonization. Curr Opin Microbiol. 2011 Aug;14(4):386-91. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2011.07.015. Epub 2011 Jul 28. Review. PubMed PMID: 21802979; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3163673. Web. 21 Sept. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3163673/
Truss, Orian. “Restoration of Immunologic Competence to Candida Albicans.” ORTHOMOLECULAR PSYCHIATRY 9 (1980): 287-301. Web. 21 Sept. 2016. http://4fnfl92psu9e3d280z3z4m8q-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/research/1980-v09n04-p287.pdf

 

10 Foods for Brain Health

Brain Health

I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve used the phrase “I have a gut feeling about this” or “I have butterflies in my stomach”. Did you ever wonder why these sayings involve our brains and our stomachs? Well as it turns out, our stomach (or gut) is really our “second brain”, and every day we are learning more about this gut-brain connection.

Not only does our gut produce hormones to help digest food, absorb nutrients, and support regular bowel function, it also produces neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that impact our psychology and brain function.

As we age, we are all at risk for brain degeneration, so it only makes sense to do everything possible to care for our brain. The foods we choose could be the most significant variable we can control to enhance health, strength, and functionality of our brain. This ultimately requires taking out less healthy choices- processed foods (sugar, trans fats, unpreferred ingredients) and putting in more healthful options- foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and good fats- the best brain foods!

Here are 10 brain foods that should be part of your kitchen and everyday eating pattern:

  1. Avocados– These are packed with monounsaturated fats, keeping blood glucose levels steady. They also contains vitamin K and folate, protecting against stroke, as well as improving memory and concentration. They are also rich in B vitamins and vitamin C, which need to be replenished daily.
  2. Blueberries– These help reduce inflammation (a culprit in nearly all brain degenerative disorders), and are packed with brain-protective antioxidants. Organic berries are preferred.
  3. Broccoli– High in vitamin C, vitamin K, and sulforophane, a chemical that aids in free radical control, lowering inflammation, and the detoxification process.
  4. Coconut Oil– Provides saturated fat, a crucial nutrient for the integrity and function of brain cell membranes. Coconut oil also has antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and some antioxidant properties, improving the ability of neurons in the brain to utilize energy while reducing the production of free radicals.
  5. Egg Yolks– These are rich in choline, a precursor chemical for one of the most fundamental neurotransmitters- acetylcholine. Eggs also contain cholesterol which is an important component of brain cell membranes. Organic free-range eggs are preferred.
  6. EVOO– Extra virgin olive oil contains antioxidants known as polyphenols, which are powerful brain protective antioxidants.
  7. Salmon– Atlantic wild caught salmon (not farm raised) is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids keeping our brain running smoothly. DHA plays a critical role in not only maintaining healthy neurons (brain cells), but also aids in stimulating the growth of brain cells in the brain’s memory center!
  8. Turmeric– A super spice known for its healing properties and one that has been used throughout centuries. Turmeric has great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, boosting your immune system and improving brain oxygen intake.
  9. Green Leafy Vegetables– Variety, variety, variety! Dandelion greens, kale, swiss chard, and spinach are loaded with nutrients beneficial for brain health- vitamin A, K, C, potassium, iron, folate, lutein, and prebiotic fibers that help the growth of brain supportive gut bacteria.
  10. Dark Chocolate– Rich in antioxidants and possesses anti-inflammatory properties due to its polyphenol content. This can also help improve blood flow to the brain. Before getting too excited thinking that all chocolate is the same…nope! Most of the chocolate at your local supermarket is highly processed with little to no benefits. You want to go for minimally processed chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa (or higher). The darker the chocolate the more benefits!

The list does not end there! Other foods to consider include nuts, seeds, and herbs like rosemary. The bottom line: choose whole foods, plenty of variety, and minimize your intake of unhealthy options. For added brain health support, try incorporating the foods mentioned above and work towards cultivating your best brain ever!


Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

Previ Point of View: Paleolithic Nutrition

Paleolithic nutritionA Paleolithic way of eating has truly become a trend in recent years, and with all trends of course, some information gets missed or “modified.” If you are considering this type of eating pattern, these are the main principles:

The Paleolithic plan (also known as Paleo, Caveman diet, Old Stone Age diet, and Primal diet) bases itself on the presumption of what our ancestors ate before the beginning of agriculture. It theorizes that our bodies, more importantly our gastrointestinal system, has not adapted to the grains, dairy, legumes, and processed foods commonly consumed today. In general, this pattern of eating emphasizes high fiber vegetables, fruits, nuts, high-quality fat, lean, grass-fed meat, organic free range eggs, chicken and turkey, and fresh wild low-mercury caught fish and shellfish. Grains, starches, legumes, dairy products, refined sugars, processed foods, processed meats, artificial sweeteners, trans- fats, and refined vegetable oils are excluded. There are different versions of the Paleolithic diet. The most restricted version eliminates all starchy and root vegetables along with ghee and grass-fed butter. In the less restricted versions, these foods are allowed.

Common Misconceptions:

  • Bacon: Processed meats are not encouraged on a Paleolithic plan; therefore bacon (sausage, deli meats) are not a suitable option. Sorry Paleo bacon lovers! If you’re staying true to the foundation of Paleolithic nutrition, our ancestors were likely not eating bacon and sausage- just saying.
  • Excess Protein, Low Carb: Another common belief is that Paleolithic is a high-protein and low- or no-carbohydrate diet. Paleo does not imply increasing your protein consumption to any higher level than what would be recommended for general health. All refined carbohydrates are discouraged, while whole vegetables are encouraged. Depending on your lifestyle, your sources of carbohydrates may need to be modified (i.e. allowing root vegetables and/or legumes).
  • Protein is Protein: Well…yes and no. The quality of your protein sources matters. Nutritionally speaking, organic grass-fed beef, organic free range poultry and eggs, and wild caught seafood strongly differ compared to their conventional counterparts that have been fed a processed diet (i.e. soy, corn) and raised unsustainably. Aside from nutritional content, the importance of choosing high quality protein sources is what you are not getting- you know all the pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals (etc., etc.) that are all toxic to our bodies.

All in all, it could be that the positive outcomes from a Paleolithic style of eating may have more to do with avoiding consumption of refined/processed foods that are known to promote inflammation in our bodies, and focusing on eating more fruits, vegetables, and quality fat and protein sources to promote anti-inflammatory benefits. At the end of the day, there is not one Paleolithic type of plan out there nor is there one “diet” that is right for everyone. Whether you are staying true to Paleo “roots” or implementing a modified version of this plan, flexibility is key.

So Paleo enthusiasts and disbelievers alike, let’s be civilized primitives and take the Paleolithic plan for what it is- one type of eating pattern that aims to optimize wellness by encouraging whole foods. Whether it is the right eating style for you or not is something that a nutrition expert can help you decipher. We encourage working with one of or PreviMedica nutritionists to ensure you are receiving adequate nutrition from your current eating pattern, while addressing your goals and health needs.


Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

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